Efforts being made in smart agriculture

February 24, 2022 | 14:00
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For Vietnam’s agricultural sector to expand export markets with high-quality products, the country is being urged to enact specific policies to apply high technologies with great value globally.
Efforts being made in smart agriculture
Other countries are currently ahead of Vietnam in terms of mobile tech solutions in agriculture

The Agribusiness Working Group under the Vietnam Business Forum is urging the government to reinvent the country’s agricultural sector so that more high-tech can be applied with incentives to enterprises and investors.

“Modern large-scale farmers are agribusiness investors who do not till the soil and tend livestock. The modern farmer sits in an office and examines information provided to them through sensors and advanced technology so that they can monitor stocks, growth rates, water use, fertiliser, and feed management,” stated the working group in a document sent to the government. “New ideas, smart concepts, new farming models, and a greater focus on circular agriculture and environmental responsibility need to be addressed.”

David Traub, director of Germany’s B.K Smart Agro Company, told VIR he can export smart solutions to Vietnam if there are more favourable conditions. “While in Israel, I can open my mobile phone and directly see how my tractors and sowers are working on my family’s wheat plot in Nürtingen in Germany,” Traub referenced. “I know that Vietnam is going to fully open its air routes, and I am thinking about a plan to visit the country to seek partners and learn more about the agricultural sector and its related policies.”

Elsewhere, US-backed Cargill is expanding its investment and business portfolio in Vietnam via IT. The firm is cooperating with shrimp farmers to tap into cloud-based solutions thanks to Cargill’s iQShrimp. The predictive software uses machine learning and sensors to give real-time visibility in farms’ operations. iQShrimp is a first-generation offering driven by Cargill’s digital platform for aquaculture.

“Shrimp farming has inherent weather and disease risks,” said a Cargill representative. “By working directly with shrimp farmers, our data scientists can use machine learning to deliver insights that directly impact the growth and economics of their operations.”

Minister for Agriculture and Rural Development Le Minh Hoan has placed an emphasis on the development of circular agriculture to minimise waste and environmental damage and increase productivity and shorten supply chains.

Circular agriculture means efficiently managing agricultural resources. It focuses on using minimal amounts of external inputs, closing nutrient loops, regenerating soils, and minimising the impact on the environment.

If practised on a wide scale, circular agriculture can reduce resource requirements and the ecological footprint of agriculture.

Around the world, modern farming methods are impacting nature, people’s health, and food production. Circular agriculture is a method of farming with nature, rather than against it.

“If Vietnam offers attractive policies to investors and enterprises, they will bring high technologies to the country,” said Traub. “For example in Israel, attractive policies on tax, land, and import-export were enacted several decades ago, making the nation one of the leading countries in the world with the most modern agricultural sector. My company has also exported products to this nation.”

Vietnam’s Ministry of Planning and Investment and Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) are working to amend the government’s existing Decree No.57/2018/ND-CP on mechanisms and policies to encourage enterprises to invest in the agricultural and rural sector. Under Decree 57, businesses find it hard to approach incentives as these often remain unclear. It is expected that a new legal framework will be attractive enough for businesses to cultivate their high-tech agricultural projects, and import high technologies into the country.

Vietnam’s agricultural sector last year grew 2.85 per cent on-year, with total export revenue of $48.6 billion, up from $41.2 billion in 2020. The figure is expected to reach more than $50 billion this year, according to the MARD.

The MARD ascribed the impressive growth in export value to many enterprises and farmers applying high technologies in production and businesses, and this has also been highly appreciated by the Agribusiness Working Group.

“Developing smart processing is a key solution to raising product value, and thereby increasing export earnings, which is also in line with the government’s goal of entering the top 15 countries with advanced agriculture, and the top 10 with modern farm production processing. Efforts to modernise and further promote technology application in post-harvest processing have resulted in an increase of 5-7 per cent in the agriculture sector’s annual added value, pushing the average export turnover up by 8-10 per cent a year,” the working group stated.

According to the group, one of Vietnam’s development orientations for 2021-2030 is to create agriculture on the basis of digital transformation and links of domestic and international markets.

“To turn Vietnam into a modern, industrialised country, the government has been promoting digital transformation in many fields, in which, agriculture is a priority. But with increasing requirements of the export market, Vietnamese agriculture must increase its competitiveness and adapt to new conditions by applying smart technology to production,” the group explained.

By Thanh Thu

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